Louise Glück

Saint Joan

When I was seven, I had a vision:
I believed I would die. I would die
at ten, of polio. I saw my death:
it was a vision, an insight—
it was what Joan had, to save France.

I grieved bitterly, Cheated
of earth, cheated
of a whole childhood, of the great dreams of my heart
which would never be manifest.

No one knew any of this. 
And then I lived.

I kept being alive
when I should have been burning:
I was Joan, I was Lazarus.

of childhood, of adolescence. 
I was Lazarus, the world given to me again.
Nights I lay in my bed, waiting to be found out.
And the voices returned, but the world 
refused to withdraw.

I lay awake, listening. 
Fifty years ago, in my childhood.
And of course now.
What was it, speaking to me? Terror
of death, terror of gradual loss;
fear of sickness in its bridal whites—

When I was seven, I believed I would die:
only the dates were wrong. I heard
a dark prediction
rising in my own body.

I gave you your chance.
I listened to you, I believed in you.
I will not let you have me again.